Akira Toriyama Was Unusually Involved In Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of The Gods

The "Dragon Ball" series has only grown more and more popular since its debut in 1984. The hit franchise has had as many evolutions as its main protagonist, spanning three different anime and manga series. Following the original "Dragon Ball," "Dragon Ball Z" turned the series into a full-fledged Shonen, and the massive success of the sequel series led to yet another follow-up, this time titled "Dragon Ball Super." However, with "Super," creator Akira Toriyama would take a break from drawing duties, opting to be in charge of the story while his collaborator Toratayro would draw the manga.

"Dragon Ball Super" would differentiate from its predecessors because its world, characters, and story would first be introduced in the feature film "Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods." The manga began its serialization in Weekly Shonen Jump after the film's release, using the characters introduced in the movie and expounding upon them in a story of its own separate from the film. And this is where Toriyama's unusual involvement in the "Dragon Ball" film begins.

Toriyama's design of new characters

Tadayoshi Yamamuro, the key animation supervisor for "Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of The Gods," spoke about Toriyama's involvement in an interview translated by Kanzenshuu:

"I would draw the roughs of the characters, then have the creator, Akira Toriyama-sensei, consider them, but this time, art for the characters came up from Toriyama-sensei first, so I was surprised. It's rare for Toriyama-sensei both to be involved from the scenario stage, and to have drawn the costumes for all the characters. I felt that Toriyama-sensei's enthusiasm for this theatrical release was considerable. So normally when making them into animation, we would simplify the illustrations for the key frames in order to make them easier to move, but since Toriyama-sensei had drawn this much, I wanted to animate them as-is, without any simplifications."

Toriyama's involvement from the very early stages of the pre-production process speaks to his passion for the Shonen series, which is admirable given how long Toriyama has been a part of this series. At this point, any less-inspired creator would take a backseat and oversee more significant picture parts of the storytelling process. However, Toriyama's involvement speaks to a dedication to the "Dragon Ball" world and its importance to him.

A long-lasting passion

"Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of The Gods" re-introduces the world of "Dragon Ball" while providing a new cast of colorful characters. Toriyama no doubt understood the importance of making the cast of the soon-to-be new manga series compelling, both in design and characterization. Toriyama's involvement in the film was well-warranted, as characters like Lord Beerus and Whiz would become "Dragon Ball Super" mainstays. 

The unusual nature of the anime adaptation being released before "Super" actually got published or became an anime TV series likely led to Toriyama's much more active role in the film. The production and planning process required Toriyama to make an essential creative decision, choosing to design the new characters himself rather than leave it in the hands of those making the film. That turned out for the best, though, as "Battle Of The Gods" has that signature Toriyama touch with newly designed characters that breathe a whole new life into the series. 

Beerus' Egyptian god design and Goku's new transformation all became integral parts of the lore of "Dragon Ball." To not have Akira Toriyama be a part of that design process just feels wrong. Thankfully, the creator has enough vested interest in his series to design all new opponents for Son Goku to overcome, and he'll hopefully help design plenty more.